The West Midlands Police has said it is focusing its efforts to tackle violent retail crime and theft through the rehabilitation of offenders. 

Speaking at the NFRN’s West Midlands district council meeting last week, West Midlands assistant police and crime commissioner, Waheed Saleem, claimed a trial to rehabilitate shop thieves had saved businesses nearly £1m over the past 18 months. 

“The programme targets the most prolific offenders and supports them by putting them into rehab and work. It aims to educate them on what they’re committing and the impact,” he said.

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“One offender had a £2,000 weekly drug habit, which she funded by stealing goods from shops. We’ve spent between £6,000 and £10,000 putting her through a drug rehabilitation service. We want to use this as a way of removing them from a life of crime and [preventing them from] causing misery for shopkeepers. 

“Retailers are the backbone of the economy and we need to ensure we work with and support you to allow you to do your everyday jobs and earn a living. Crime affects you and it has a massive impact on your livelihoods.”

Saleem will be stepping down from his role next year, but added that part of his legacy was that West Midlands Police is also educating youths on the dangers of violent crime. “Violence is hitting the business community and it’s about early intervention,” he said. 

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“We want to get the message out to young people about the risk of violent crime and hopefully divert them away from it. We’ve sent specialised youth workers into schools and accident and emergency departments to provide anti-knife-crime initiatives.”

The West Midlands Police also announced plans to visit businesses on 16 December as part of a campaign to improve relationships with local neighbourhood officers. 

Saleem, who will attend the meetings with the officers, said: “Shops don’t know who their local neighbourhood officer is, and that’s a problem. 

“Nearly every business will be visited and given contact details and more information on reporting crimes. I hope that will trigger the officers to ensure they do this regularly throughout the year.”

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